Costa Rica is establishing itself as a fantastic spot for eco-tourism and to ensure that they continue to be so awesome they need to protect their natural environment. Costa Rica is trying to reclaim land that was taken away from their tropical forests and replant the natural species in hopes of revival – and it’s working.
When the researchers planted worn-out cattle pastures in Costa Rica with a sampling of local trees in the early 1990s, native species of plants began to move in and flourish, raising the hope that destroyed rain forests could one day be replaced.
Ten years after the tree plantings, Cornell graduate student Jackeline Salazar counted the species of plants that took up residence in the shade of the new planted areas. She found remarkably high numbers of species — more than 100 in each plot. And many of the new arrivals were also to be found in nearby remnants of the original forests.
“By restoring forests we hope not only to be improving the native forests, but we are helping to control erosion and helping the quality of life of the local people,” said Carl Leopold, the William H. Crocker Scientist Emeritus at BTI. He pointed out that drinking water becomes more readily available when forests thrive because tree roots act as a sort of sponge, favoring rainwater seepage and preventing water running off hills and draining away.